Olympic Champion Highlights Field Events at GOLDZONE II

April 11, 2006


Nick Hysong, the 2000 Olympic champion in the pole vault, will compete in the men’s Invitational pole vault at GOLDZONE II, Meet Director Tim Weaver announced on Tuesday. Hysong is the seventh Olympic gold medal winner to commit to the Saturday afternoon meet-within-a-meet at the 79th Kansas Relays. The men’s javelin throw will feature two athletes from last summer’s World Outdoor Championship lineup, including finalist Scott Russell, a two-time NCAA champion for Kansas. Additionally, the men’s shot put competition includes a world champion and the women’s Invitational pole vault features four women who have cleared 14 feet.

Hysong leads a group of four men in the meet who have cleared 19 feet in the vault. KU graduate Pat Manson, owner of a 21-year streak of vaults over 18 feet, will also be in attendance. While a Jayhawk, Manson collected four silver and two bronze medals at the NCAA Championships. Russ Buller placed fifth at the most recent U.S. Indoor Championships. An NCAA champion, Buller also was twice the high school national champion. Jacob Pauli competed very well at last year’s event with his crowd-pleasing antics and the victory in the Invitational vault. Two talented Cornhuskers will also join the field in Memorial Stadium. Gable Baldwin and Ray Scotten share a personal best jump of 18-2 1/2. Both have been Big 12 champions and NCAA All-Americans for Nebraska. Andre Poljanec of Slovenia and Jarno Kivioja from Finland, a pair of All-Americans from Northern Iowa, add depth and an international element to the field with personal bests of 17-10 1/2 and 17-6 1/2, respectively. Former Big 10 champion from Wisconsin, Darren Niedermeyer, will bring a best vault of 17-2 3/4 to the competition.

The women’s Invitational pole vault will showcase four women who have cleared 14 feet in the event. The best mark entering the meet belongs to Amy Linnen, the KU alumni who won two NCAA championships and set the U.S. junior and NCAA indoor records. She has vaulted 14-10 1/4 . Dana Ellis of Canada finished sixth at the 2004 Olympic Games. This two-time Canadian national champion has also finished sixth at the World Championships. April Steiner (14-7 1/4), last year’s Kansas Relays champion, was fifth at the U.S. Olympic Trials and an All-American. Kansas State vaulter Breanna Eveland is an All-American and won a bronze medal at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month. Kate Sultanova, a redshirt for Kansas and native of Russia, won the Big 12 outdoor title last year and placed seventh at the NCAA meet. Andree Pickens won two NCAA titles in gymnastics for Alabama. She finished in eighth place at last month’s U.S. Indoor Championships and has a best jump of 13-10.

Rivalries will be plenty in the men’s Invitational shot put as Jayhawks, Tigers and Wildcats meet in the throws ring. Former Missouri athlete Christian Cantwell is a World, U.S. and NCAA champion with a best toss of 73-11 1/2. He will face three primary challengers at the Kansas Relays. A nine-time All-American, Dan Taylor (69-11 3/4) was twice the NCAA champion while at Ohio State. KU senior Sheldon Battle threw a tremendous 68-8 1/2 at the U.S. Outdoor Championships last year. Before his stint at Kansas, he collected gold medals at the junior college championships in both the shot and discus. Clint Prange was a NCAA Division II champion four times for Northwest Missouri, setting the national record of 66-1 in the process. K-State senior TJ Staab, a Junior Olympic champion in the event, is also a member of the 60-foot club. He placed 14th at the NCAA Championships last year.

The men’s javelin will be a three-way battle between former Kansas Relays champions. Russell won two NCAA crowns while a Jayhawk. He has gone on to place 12th and 13th at the 2005 and 2001 World Outdoor Championships, respectively, for his native Canada. He has won five Kansas Relays titles, but was bested at the meet in 2005 by John Hetzendorf who went on to represent the United States at the World Championships in Helsinki last summer. He was a two-time All-American and Penn Relays champion. Eric Brown, a senior at the University of Arkansas, twice won prep titles at the Kansas Relays for Baldwin High School. As a Razorback he has been named an All-American on two occasions and was the 2005 NCAA Mideast Regional champion.

The 79th Kansas Relays will run from April 20 – 22; the GOLDZONE II is Saturday, April 22 from 2-5 p.m. For more information on the Kansas Relays, a complete GOLDZONE II schedule, and ticket information, visit http://kuathletics.collegesports.com/sports/c-relay/.